Sure-handed verse work in multiple registers.




In a new collection “for travelers,” Milligan sometimes races and sometimes tools along; no matter the speed, it’s a pleasing ride.

In a recent interview, former Globe Theatre director Mark Rylance argued that much of Shakespeare’s brilliance is his control of the demotic, his acknowledgment that the real power of poetry may not lie in the words only he can say but in the words we all can say. Veteran poet Milligan (Lost and Certain of It, 2006, etc.) understands this concept, as well, and his latest book is a rushing river that spins and eddies around a few well-placed stones of utterly common speech. “Strings,” a sort of elegy for lost parents, opens with the exhausted “good grief, Daddy,” and slips away with the simple refrain of a woman whose mind has abandoned her: “now, who are you?” Around such vernacular anchors, Milligan builds a poetic structure characterized by balance (the “arabesque” of the title is a ballet pose demanding poise). The poet divides his book into three parts; the first and third feature relatively short stanzas and clipped lines while the second is full of longer prose poems “written at speed.” Most poets work well in one mode, either economy or abandon. Milligan can do both with grace. “Waiting for the Tow” is a study in brevity that teeters but never quite falls into the gnomic; it opens, provocatively, “The day is severed: / planned from unplanned, / necessary from / necessary now.” By contrast, “Four-Stroke,” a longer piece from the middle section, spreads out: “If ever you spent much quality time on the hurricane deck of a trusted motorcycle then had to give it up—trading it in, say, for a station wagon to haul around your rock band or maybe pay a tuition bill or buy an engagement ring—then you’ll recognize the symptoms of the syndrome.” That no word is wasted in either type of poem demonstrates the poet’s experience.

Sure-handed verse work in multiple registers.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9970353-0-8

Page Count: 100

Publisher: West End Press

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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